NASA 2010 Biennial Conference report

NASA logoI had a great time at the 2010 Biennial Conference of the North American Saxophone Alliance. It was held on the campus of the University of Georgia, my alma mater, so I got to see many old friends and colleagues.

A more poignant aspect of this year’s conference was the conspicuous absence of Dr. Kenneth Fischer, my former saxophone teacher and the intended conference host. After Dr. Fischer’s very untimely passing a few months ago, many among the NASA leadership made extra efforts to ensure that the conference went on as planned. Surely not the least among these was Dr. Stephen Fischer, Kenneth Fischer’s son, my old classmate, and a brilliant saxophonist in his own right. I noted that the conference program read:

Hosts
Dr. Kenneth Fischer
Dr. Stephen Fischer

I was in attendance Thursday through Saturday (the conference began on Wednesday). It’s such a big conference that lots of things are going on at once, and there’s no way to get to everything. But here are a few events that I caught that were highlights for me: Continue reading “NASA 2010 Biennial Conference report”

Required recordings, spring 2010

As I explained back in August, I’m having my university students purchase a required recording every semester.

The purpose of this, of course, is to help the students develop good aural concepts of tone, phrasing, expression, vibrato, ensemble, and so forth. To try to learn to play an instrument well without a solid aural concept is like trying to learn a foreign language from a textbook. You might pick up a few things, but you’ll be sunk unless you get to really hear—over and over—how the words and phrases sound.

I’m discovering that it’s a challenge to make the recording selections meet all the criteria I’d like. For example, I would like for each one to:

  • Be by a major soloist, preferably living
  • Contain very standard literature that my students should know, without too many repeats from previous selections
  • Contrast with last semester’s selection (for example, if last semester’s recording was music with piano, I tried to pick a concerto recording this time around)
  • If at all possible, contribute to a sense of diversity

The last one has been a challenge. So far my two-semester tally, selecting recordings for four different instruments, is six white men and two white women. I’d like to improve on that in the future, though I do think that, ultimately, what comes through the earphones is more central to this project than the colors or genders represented on the CD covers. I’ve got a few ideas for future selections and welcome additional suggestions.

Here are this semester’s selections: Continue reading “Required recordings, spring 2010”